Looking to extend it's success against Canadian opponents, the Crew welcomes Vancouver Whitecaps FC to Columbus on Saturday (7:30PM EST/FOX Sports Ohio). The Black & Gold have lost just once to teams from north of the border and won both matches against Whitecaps FC in 2011.
However, after finishing tied for the fewest points in Major League Soccer in the club's inaugural season, Vancouver sits in third place in the MLS Western Conference with 11 points so far in 2012. The resurgence has been led by new coach Martin Rennie, who has made several key personnel changes including the acquistion of French playmaker Sebatien Le Toux to join in the attack with fellow Frenchman Eric Hassli and Brazilian Camilo Sanvezzo.
"(Le Toux) is a very good player," Crew defender Sebastian Miranda said after Thursday's training session at Crew Stadium. "He's always running, making diagonal runs or he's helping the midfielders. We have to be alert with him because he's a very good player. Also, Camilo is fast. We have to be smart because maybe they will want to play to the counter attack because they're playing away. If we put the pressure on high and play our soccer, that will be key."
Added Columbus head coach Robert Warzycha, "(Le Toux) has been in the league for quite a bit, so he know where to go and he's a good finisher. He's going to make the game more difficult."
In addition to stopping Whitecaps FC's attack, the Crew will hope to build on an improved offense of it's own the team showed last week against Houston.
Rookie forward Aaron Schoenfeld, who recorded his first career assist on Eddie Gaven's second goal in the 2-2 draw, said it is hard to determine what it was that finally clicked for the Crew attackers, but he noted the new players on the squad are starting to get a feel for each other.
"It's hard to pinpoint. I just think everyone worked hard (against Houston) and everyone worked together. As the season goes on, people are starting to get to know each other a little better. We're starting to figure out where everyone's going to be and what tendencies each of us like," Schoenfeld explained.
"I think it was an overall team performance. We passed the ball better. We didn't lose the ball in bad areas. We took care of the ball, so we that gave us more time on the ball. The players got confident and we were closer to the goal. High pressure helps also. We were winning the ball much higher up the field," Warzycha added. "I hope it carries over and I hope we score more goals."
The Crew will need goals and, more impotantly, a win as saturday's match marks the first of five matches against Western Conference opponents. The stretch includes a trip to Portand next week and visits to first place San Jose on May 19 and Seattle on May 23.